SWEET EVILWendy Higgins
Paranormal Young Adult
Available May 1st
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)What if there were teens whose lives depended on being bad influences? This is life for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.
Tenderhearted Southern girl, Anna Whitt, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
A cross-country trip to meet her father forces Anna to face the reality that hope and love are not options for her kind. When she confronts her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
MY THOUGHTSSweet Evil is a tale of dark emotional decadence, luring us in with a beautiful contrast between innocent Anna and sinful Kaidan, and once it has us in its iron grip their story begins to slowly squeeze, forcing us to feel each moment of joy and pain as it’s forced from the recesses of our bodies to the very surface. Once there, it seems as though anyone looking at us will be able to clearly see each emotion etched across our features, and we read page after page hypersensitive to every nuance of feeling coursing through our bodies as Kai and Anna move their feet to a dangerous and addictive rhythm, their steps echoing in our minds and leaving indelible footprints on our hearts. This is one of those books we find ourselves repeatedly walking away from–not due to disinterest, but rather to self-preservation–needing to take a breather to shore up our courage at what we can only imagine Anna and Kai are going to face in a battle that extends beyond life and death and into eternity.
Anna is sweet and innocent; a perpetual rule-follower and spiritual young woman who has known little other than the unconditional love of her adoptive mother. Though she is often naïve and entirely too trusting, believing the best of people and hardly ever recognizing potentially threatening behaviors, she’s never one to think herself better than those around her nor does she believe her way of living is the best or only way. There’s a definite fragility about her–the desire to cup her eyes with our own hands to form blinders that keep her view of the world unsullied by reality dogging our every step–however, that fragility is in no way tantamount to weakness, and she proves to us again and again that she’s far stronger on every level than she might outwardly appear. She handles her gut-wrenching relationship with Kai with a stunningly flawed grace, recognizing some unhealthy behaviors in herself when things with him prove difficult, and allowing herself to indulge in them in a way that’s realistic without being overly dramatic.
Kaidan is the perfect counterpoint to Anna, wearing sin and debauchery like a perfectly tailored suit to accentuate his every deliciously seductive feature, but every once in a while that suit slips off his shoulders and we see pieces of him marred by a life absent of the very love with which Anna’s overflows. Being the son of the Demon of Lust, it’s his job to touch, tease, and tempt any young woman who crosses his path, and while we should be angry with him as he continues his “work” throughout his tumultuous relationship with Anna, Ms. Higgins writes him in such a way that our anger is tempered by the agony we feel on his behalf the more we learn of his circumstances. The acute pain that jolts our systems every time we think of him is two-fold: the distress caused by the knowledge that his hands and mouth are on girls other than Anna when we know how much she loves him first tearing our hearts to ragged shreds, while the even more tortuous realization that being with those other women only causes him misery then rips those shreds fully from our chests and leaves them pulsing weakly on the ground.
One very minor criticism keeping this story from being gloriously perfect is with regard to Kaidan and the other Neph’s need peddle the sins of their fathers. We aren’t told or exposed to the reasons why they all feel so trapped with the work they’re required to do, and we can’t help but wonder why they don’t try their hand at fabricating reports to the Dukes as Anna’s own father does. These musings are more selfish in nature though—a case of us as readers desperately seeking an excuse for Kaidan to walk out of his forced lustful haze and into a loving relationship with Anna. At the very end we are finally granted a peek at the horrors that await those who disobey the Dukes, so by the last page that tiny criticism shrivels in the face of their fury and leaves us with a deeper understanding of life as Nephilim. A truly brilliant beginning to the series, Sweet Evil should top everyone’s must-read list.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy earlier in the week as part of the Sweet Evil blog tour, so if you haven't had a chance to read her describe Kaidan as "lusty to the core" you can do that HERE.